Who Was Most Hurt By 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? Black Women

Less than 1 percent of service women are Black, but 9 percent of all female Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges were Black women.

Black women in the military disproportionately were discriminated against as part of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy. The study from the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) found that the number of military personnel discharged as a result of DADT were disproportionately women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians. In 2008, Black women totaled less than 1 percent of service members but represented 3.3 percent of Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges; women totaled only 15 percent of service members but 34 percent of Don't Ask, Don't Tell discharges.


The findings resonate with recent news of a class-action lawsuit ruling, in Collins v. United States, that requires the Pentagon to reimburse $2.5 million in severance pay to the 181 gay and lesbian service members who had been targeted and discharged under the policy. The regulation dictated that all service members who were forced to leave military service because of their orientation were penalized half of their allotted severance pay—leaving them just $14,000 each. Normally, discharged military members would receive $28,000 in compensation.

Under terms of the settlement of the lawsuit, which was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the government will award $14,000 to each plaintiff who was involuntarily dismissed, both honorably and dishonorably, because of DADT.

"This means so much to those of us who dedicated ourselves to the military, only to be forced out against our will for being who we are," said Richard Collins, a former Air Force staff sergeant and lead plaintiff. "We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans." Collins served his country for nine years prior to being discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Collins had been seen kissing his boyfriend off-base.

"There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life," said Laura Schauer Ives, an ACLU lawyer.

History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy went into effect in December 1993 under the Clinton Administration. It stated that military applicants could not be asked about their sexual orientation. DADT was introduced in Congress as a compromise to the regulations from Ronald Reagan's 1982 defense directive that stated that all military personnel who engaged in sexual acts with people of the same gender or who said that they were gay or lesbian would be discharged.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed in May 2012 under the Obama Administration.

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On Friday, Reps. Mike Kelly and Maxine Waters debated over the House voting to roll back a Consumer Financial Protections Bureau rule meant to limit discrimination in distributing auto loans. Studies have shown Blacks and Latinos have systemically been charged a higher markup on auto loans than white borrowers, and class action lawsuits were brought against auto lenders as a result. Waters advocated for another look at how this vote would impact auto loan practices with people of color. But those on the right insist talk of discrimination is steering away from the country being unified.

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Salma Hayek Calls for Male Stars to Get Pay Cut

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REUTERS

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White Yale Student Calls Police on Black Student for Napping in Dorm

A Black graduate student was harassed for falling asleep while studying.

Lolade Siyonbola/ FACEBOOK

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Graduating While Black: Students Manhandled on Stage at University of Florida Commencement Ceremony

"It's a situation where time and time again the university has made Black bodies feel unsafe," said graduate Oliver Telusma.

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During the University of Florida's (UF) commencement ceremony, a white university graduation marshal decided to stop Black students from celebrating their diplomas with "strolling." He physically forced them off stage. At the pinnacle of their college careers, Black graduates were reminded that racism exists at the university.

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